I am a bird lover and have had many birds as pets, and I let them fly around the house. But starlings are on my hate list. They come in great numbers, like a gang of ruffians, attack my fruit orchard and, in a few minutes, destroy the result of my hard work and leave a devastating scene behind. They eat and throw away my black cherries, my black and white prized mulberries, and my figs.
I spend most of my summer rushing out of the sunroom into the garden to shoo them away. The recent sound of their chirping raised a sense of urgency to go to the garden to discourage them from hanging around the garden.
Irritated, I clapped hard and threw water at the big cherry tree, thinking they were there, even though I could not see them. The chirping continued, and I felt helpless to defend my fruits. This went on for a couple of days, and I could still hear their loud voices, but I couldn’t find them. On the third day, in the early morning, I heard very close to me the sound of movement in the wall of the bathroom.
My house is 110 years old with many places where different creatures can enter for a visit. I have accepted that I must co-exist with them, even though it makes me unhappy. I listened carefully, realizing the sound was behind the wall and the creature could not go anywhere. I thought it could not be a rat since they run away fast when they hear a sound and I make a noise to scare them. My efforts were useless, and the noise sounded like a bird flapping its wings.
After some thought, I concluded that it could be a bird that had fallen through, meaning there was a nest in the attic. I knew it must be the pesky starling nesting there and babies torturing me with their cries and ready to destroy more of my fruit. So, in anger, I took a flashlight and went to the dark and narrow attic, where I could hear the chirping. There he was, a loud mouthpiece of meat with eyes closed and beak open, making a scene as if being beaten by me. I lifted him and he tried to bite me, wanting to get away. I was angry and confused. My enemy in my house at my mercy and fighting me. How dare he? What does this little thing think he is? He was away from any nest. With a little distaste I put the loudmouth baby on the floor, thinking the parents would take care of him. Later I realized that was a mistake since, for some reason, no parents appeared and there were two chicks left hungry and out of the nest. The quiet one found a hole between two wooden studs that were a few inches apart and fell to the floor behind the wall. Because he was quiet and did not make a sound, I assumed that he had died shortly after.
On a later visit, I found the nest, which was on a platform half a meter from the floor. The nest was not deep, and any movement of the chicks would have caused them to fall and that’s exactly what happened.
I felt terrible for the chick’s death and thought to do something for the other one, and against my dislike for starlings, I decided to take care of him, remembering these words of Abdu’l-Baha:
“Ye must not only have kind and merciful feelings for mankind, but ye should also exercise the utmost kindness towards every living creature.”
So, I went up to the attic and looked for him and could hear him but could not see him. It was then that I discovered a poorly constructed nest.
I looked for him everywhere, but he was under the insulation underneath the attic floor and could not be reached. I gave up and returned, but I could hear him, which made me miserable since I could not help him. I felt he was calling me for help, and since his parents had abandoned him, I was his only saviour.
I made the TV sound loud so I could not hear his cries. He was a bundle of energy and cried loudly and continuously without breaks. It tore my heart out. I did not know what to do except repeat saying, “I am so sorry, I cannot help you,” or “It is not my fault that your parents built a bad nest.” I talked to him to ease my conscience.
I knew there was a lesson in this for me, but I did not know what kind of lesson. Maybe he was born to teach me a lesson about the love and the preciousness of life.
I even went out of the house for hours so that I was away, and I would not hear it. But the moment I came in, I could hear his non-stop cries for help. I was in emotional hell, and I knew the end. But the end was not coming soon enough for him and me. I heard his flapping now; he was also on the floor behind the wall.
My misery knew no limits since now I clearly understood the agonizing end of my unwanted guest, who I now deeply cared for, wished for, and prayed for his survival, which was impossible because he had fallen behind the wall behind the bathtub.
I called him the “Little Fighter”, who would not give up easily and was fighting for his life. I cannot describe the change in my feeling from indifference when I held him in my hand and now my praying for the cries to stop.
The cries mercifully stopped the following day and, as I pondered on this sad event and tried to find the lesson in it, I realized that the little bird taught me that the gift of life is precious and worth fighting for. He taught me not to hate the starlings that destroyed my fruit. They, like me, want to live and need to eat, and, since they can’t buy food from the store, they eat it from your orchard. I learned that I can still love even those people and creatures I perceive as enemies.
I say thank you to my Little Fighter for showing me that I am still emotionally alive and capable of loving and changing my attitude. In your short life span of a few days, you triggered emotions I did not know I had. You reminded me to follow this advice:
“Ye must not only have kind and merciful feelings for mankind, but ye should also exercise the utmost kindness towards every living creature.” -Abdu’l-Bahá